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Full text of "My country and my people"

LITERARY    LIFE                        225
trenches. The party that finds a better-sounding pretext wins in the eyes of the public. The dead language therefore became a dishonest language. Anything is permissible so long as you call it-by the wrong name.
Some instances of the Chinese literary finesse are the following. When a provincial government embarked on a policy of public sale of opium, it found an extremely clever war-cry of four syllables, "Imply banning in taxing," and the discovery of that slogan alone carried the policy through as no other slogan possibly could. When the Chinese government removed its capital from Nanking to Loyang following the Shanghai War, it found another slogan called "long-term resistance." In Szechuen some of the war-lords forced the farmers to plant opium, and had the cleverness to call it "laziness tax/' the tax being on those farmers who are lazy enough not to plant opium. Recently, the same province has produced a new tax called "goodwill tax/* Le.3 an extra tax on top of those which are already thirty times the regular farm tax, which Is to bring about goodwill between the people and the soldiers by paying the soldiers and making it unnecessary for the unpaid army further to help themselves. That Is why, when we are among ourselves, we laugh at the foreign devils for their "simple-mindedness."
Such literary catastrophes are possible only in a nation believing in a false literary standard, and are in fact merely the result of the wrong method of teaching composition In primary schools. A modern Chinese, seeing the performance of such a literary atrocity, can only do either of two things. First, he can take the traditional view of literature and blandly regard it as pure bettts-lettreS) which need have no correlation with the facts which the writing is supposed to convey—and then read between the lines. Or he must demand a closer approximation between words and thought and a new literary standard, with a language more capable of expressing man's life and thoughts. In other words, he must regard the prevalence of such verbose statements as a malpractice more of a literary than of a political origin. But he must also believe that unless such literary malpractices are weeded out, political malpractices must also follow.